Aviation - Avions NASA-Prototypes
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X-40A Free Flight #5. The unpowered X-40A, an 85 percent scale risk reduction version of the proposed X-37, proved the capability of an autonomous flight control and landing system in a series of glide flights at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages the X-37 project. At Dryden, the X-40A underwent a series of ground and air tests to reduce possible risks to the larger X-37, including drop tests from a helicopter to check guidance and navigation systems planned for use in the X-37. The X-37 is designed to demonstrate technologies in the orbital and reentry environments for next-generation reusable launch vehicles that will increase both safety and reliability, while reducing launch costs from $10,000 per pound to $1,000 per pound. The X-37, carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle, is planned to fly two orbital missions to test reusable launch vehicle technologies.